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Senator Harckham Bill Expanding Access to Lifesaving Fentanyl Testing Kits Signed by Governor Hochul

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STONY POINT, NY – On the third anniversary of the passing of Matthew Horan, a Westchester resident with Substance Use Disorder who died of a fentanyl overdose, New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember John T. McDonald III announced today that their bill known as “Matthew’s Law,” which allows pharmacists to dispense testing kits to detect drug adulterants like fentanyl, has been signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.

“To stop as many overdoses as we can before they occur, it is critical that we make sure testing kits for fentanyl and other adulterants are widely available,” said Harckham, a member of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse who served as its chair from 2018 through 2022. “Thanks to Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law, these lifesaving tools will be stocked now in every pharmacy in New York, for starters. I am grateful to Kailey Horan, whose brother Matthew is one of the many individuals we have lost to fentanyl and the namesake of this new law, for spurring me to introduce it.”

Added Harckham, “Not everyone is ready for Substance Use Disorder treatment at the same time. We have a moral obligation to help people stay alive until such time they may be ready to access help. It’s important to get the word out that fentanyl test kits should be used because they save lives.”

“The increase in drug overdose deaths is a public health crisis that requires immediate action and novel strategies,” said McDonald, a registered pharmacist. “This legislation can help save lives by providing tools to identify the growing presence of alterants like fentanyl in the illicit drug supply. The opioid and overdose crisis continues to evolve in dangerous and unpredictable ways, and we must do everything we can to provide our communities with tools to prevent as many of these deaths as we can. I thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to helping New Yorkers in this public health crisis.”

Over 109,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2022, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released in May 2023; and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, was the cause of 68.8% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths—over 75,000 people. The bill (S.2009C / A.5200B), a version of which was introduced last year, is called “Matthew’s Law” in honor and memory of Matthew Horan, after his sister, Kailey Horan, had requested Harckham find a way to make fentanyl testing kits more commonplace and easier to procure after her brother ingested the drug unknowingly.

Prior to the enacting of “Matthew’s Law,” fentanyl testing strips, which can detect the presence of fentanyl in different narcotics (such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana) and in various drug forms (pills, powders, injectables), have been inaccessible in most communities statewide. Until recently, the testing strips were distributed almost exclusively by Substance Use Disorder treatment providers and harm reduction organizations at locations that are few and often far between.

Opioid overdose deaths attributable to fentanyl have increased sharply in recent years, as opioid prescriptions decreased because of concerns of abuse and drug reformulations to counter rampant abuse led to users seeking street sales of illicit painkillers, which are often spiked with fentanyl. As little as two milligrams of fentanyl can be a lethal dose.

Matthew’s Law allows healthcare professionals who are licensed, registered and authorized to prescribe prescription drugs to dispense fentanyl testing kits to any person. The kits can be stored at a licensed pharmacy, hospital, clinic or other health care facility, as well as at retail stores that contain a pharmacy department. Transactions will be limited to five testing kits at a time.

Matthew’s Law passed the New York State Senate unanimously and goes into effect 30 days after its signing on November 17, 2023.

Rules and regulations regarding the dispensing of adulterant test kits in New York will be set by the state’s DOH commissioner. Harckham and McDonald’s bill models the August 2022 standing order from the DOH commissioner to make naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, available at pharmacies statewide.

Harckham and McDonald’s legislation, signed by the Governor, providing for the distribution of testing kits at pharmacies, will significantly increase ready access to testing kits in communities across the state. By making drug testing more accessible, Matthew’ Law will reduce accidental overdoses and save lives.

Kailey Horan said, “We want to express our deepest gratitude to Governor Hochul for enacting Matthew’s Law. Her commitment to addressing the critical issues surrounding substance use disorder is commendable, and we are grateful for her leadership in creating positive change for New Yorkers.”

Horan added, “We would also like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Senator Harckham for his instrumental role in the passage of Matthew’s Law. Working with Senator Harckham has been a privilege, and we knew that his dedication and expertise were crucial for the success of this legislation. We believed that he was the only Senator capable of passing this bill with almost unanimous support, and he did. He will always have a special place in our hearts, and we’re so appreciative to have had the opportunity to collaborate with him.

“Special appreciation is also owed to Sylvie Sherlach, Legislative and Committee Director for Senator Harckham; her relentless dedication played a pivotal role in championing Matthew’s Law. Sylvie’s unwavering commitment to the cause and her efforts to keep our family informed throughout the legislative process have not gone unnoticed. Her invaluable contribution has brought about this significant change for New Yorkers. Sylvie is a force; we are eternally indebted to her for her remarkable efforts.

“Once again, thank you, Governor Hochul, Senator Harckham, Sylvie Sherlach, Assemblyman John McDonald III, and the Harckham team for your collective efforts to bring about positive change and ensure that Matthew’s Law becomes a reality.”

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Rockland County Launches TOR Ferry Connection Bus To Serve Weekend Ferry

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New City, NY – County Executive Ed Day and the Rockland County Department of Public Transportation have announced that Transport of Rockland (TOR) will launch the TOR Weekend Ferry Connection bus service starting on Saturday, July 6th. The bus service will provide connecting transit service for Metro-North Hudson Line customers who travel to Haverstraw via the Haverstraw-Ossining Weekend Ferry, enabling them to travel beyond the Ferry Landing via public transit. The TOR Ferry Connection will also provide service for Rockland residents who want to use the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry to travel to Westchester or to NYC via Metro-North Hudson Line trains from Ossining.

The TOR Weekend Ferry Connection bus will serve Metro-North’s Haverstraw-Ossining Weekend Ferry service pilot program, which began on May 25th and is expected to operate through November 10th. The TOR Ferry Connection will meet each of the ferries arriving and departing the Haverstraw Ferry Landing on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekend ferry customers can board the TOR Ferry Connection upon arrival at the Haverstraw Ferry Landing. The Ferry Connection enables easy access to downtown Haverstraw, which is approximately one mile from the Landing, and then travels through the Village of Haverstraw to the Village of West Haverstraw to serve the Garner Arts Center, south on Route 9W to serve Rockland Lake State Park in Valley Cottage, then to downtown Nyack before heading west on Route 59 to serve the Palisades Center mall in West Nyack.  At Palisades Center, the bus will serve the stores bus stop at Macy’s as well as the Commuter Parking Lot.

“Rockland County is happy to be able to host visitors from around our region, who are able to use the new Haverstraw-Ossining Weekend Ferry Service to travel to Rockland,” said County Executive Ed Day. “With the TOR Weekend Ferry Connection bus service, those visitors now have a way to travel from the Ferry Landing to the various destinations and attractions Rockland has to offer.”

“This is the perfect time to launch this new service – with summer in full swing and so many opportunities to enjoy our Hudson River waterfront, arts centers, restaurants, shops and more,” Rockland County Legislature Chairman Jay Hood Jr. said. “This effort means visitors can leave their cars at home but still have a reliable way to visit the many cultural, recreational and historic landmarks that help make Rockland County the special place we all love. Likewise, Rockland residents will have a special way to travel across the Hudson to visit the east side and even travel further into New York City if they choose. Thanks to all who have helped make this new service possible.”

“We are pleased that our Department was able to work quickly to put the TOR Weekend Ferry Connection into place,” said Rockland County Public Transportation Department Acting Commissioner Doug Schuetz. “Thanks to the hard work and efforts of our staff and bus operator, and with operating assistance funds from Metro-North, TOR can now provide this valuable service.”

“This new bus route combined with the weekend ferry service offers visitors and residents a convenient option to explore Rockland’s unique tourism assets,” said Lucy Redzeposki, Director of Economic Development and Tourism. “Expect the unexpected in beautiful Rockland County!”

“The Village of Haverstraw is thrilled that the County of Rockland has recognized this opportunity to promote tourism along the Hudson River provided by the start of the weekend ferry service,” said Village of Haverstraw Mayor Michael Kohut. “Now those from the east side of the Hudson can have the chance to explore Rockland’s river communities at their leisure and Rocklanders can enjoy the opportunity to explore Westchester and beyond via Metro-North.”

Customers using this TOR connecting service will be able to transfer to other transit options at TOR transit hubs in the Village of Haverstraw, downtown Nyack and at Palisades Center to access additional destinations. The TOR Ferry Connection schedule also includes a final evening trip to Palisades Center for Metro-North customers who may stay beyond the 8:20 pm departure time of the last ferry back to Ossining. This provides an option for Metro-North customers to return to the Hudson Line at Tarrytown via the Hudson Link bus from Palisades Center or downtown Nyack.

The TOR Weekend Ferry Connection schedule features 26 trips per day for both Saturdays and Sundays, including 13 Southbound trips that meet all ferry arrivals and 13 Northbound trips that meet all ferry departures at the Haverstraw Ferry Landing. The service operates between 8 am and 10 pm. The service is provided by the Rockland County Department of Public Transportation and Metro-North Railroad, in partnership with the Rockland County Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the Village of Haverstraw.  The TOR Weekend Ferry Connection service is fare free.

Go to www.rocklandbus.com for more information and to sign up for free Transit Alerts. For trip planning assistance, call the Transit Information Center at (845) 364-3333, Monday-Friday from 9 am and 5 pm.

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Five Towns Of Rockland Blood Drive Challenge In Partnership With The American Red Cross

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Nanuet, NY – Senator Bill Weber today announced the Five Towns of Rockland Blood Drive Challenge in partnership with the American Red Cross. This friendly competition between the five towns of Rockland will take place between July 30th and August 3rd. Each of the Five Town Supervisors has agreed to participate and assist in promoting their town’s blood drive.
“I’m excited to announce the Five Towns of Rockland Blood Drive Challenge in partnership with the American Red Cross. Only three percent of the population regularly donates blood. We need to increase that number, and this five towns challenge was developed to do exactly that,” said Senator Bill Weber.
Donors can preregister for the event by going to:
The schedule for the blood drive challenge is:
July 30th – Finkelstein Memorial Library
24 Chestnut Street
Spring Valley, NY 10977
10:30 AM – 04:30 PM
July 31st – Orangetown Town Hall
26 W Orangeburg Rd
Orangeburg, NY 10962
09:00 AM – 03:00 PM
August 1st – Stony Point Senior Center
19 Club House Ln
Stony Point, NY 10980
10:00 AM – 03:00 PM
August 2nd – Clarkstown Town Hall
10 Maple Ave
New City, NY 10956
12:00 PM – 05:00 PM
August 3rd – Town of Haverstraw
1 Rosman Rd
Garnerville, NY 10923
10:00 AM – 03:00 PM
Two prizes will be awarded, one for the most blood collected and another for the most newly registered Red Cross blood donors. The winning town for each category will receive a trophy and bragging rights until next year’s competition.
“Blood and platelet donors are critically needed right now to support lifesaving transfusions this summer,” said Stephanie Dunn Ashely, CEO of the American Red Cross Metro New York North Chapter. “Full summer calendars and holiday plans may prevent regular donors from being able to give, but every donation counts in the mission to keep blood products stocked for patients who need them. This is why we are so excited and proud to partner with Senator Weber and the five towns across Rockland County to sponsor a friendly competition where neighbors can roll up their sleeves to help save a life. In this competition, everyone in the community wins!”
There will be five blood drives over five consecutive days, one in each of the five towns of Rockland. Senator Bill Weber contacted the NYS Thruway Authority, and they agreed to light up the Tappan Zee Bridge in red on the night of the first blood drive (July 30th) to help spread awareness of this life-saving initiative.

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